The creation of the Department of Education Reform in the College of Education and Health Professions in 2005 was made possible through a $10 million private gift and an additional $10 million from the University's Matching Gift Program. This gift is one of the largest ever received by a college of education in the country. With these resources, the department has six endowed professorships, 10 doctoral fellowships and funds for research and projects.
The mission of the Department of Education Reform is to advance education and economic development by focusing on the improvement of academic achievement in elementary and secondary schools. The Department of Education Reform produces unbiased research findings leading to direct intervention programs in public schools. It is committed to providing research that will directly inform policymakers at all levels of government, scholars, parents, teachers, administrators and the general public to positively influence the future of Arkansas and the nation's schools.
The EDRE mission will be achieved through the pursuit of the following seven goals:
- Improve the quality of education provided to Arkansas children who will eventually join the state's work force.
- Develop and implement demonstration projects in public schools that link research findings to classroom practice.
- Enhance a positive perception of education quality in Arkansas thus contributing to the ability of the state to attract new business and a highly qualified work force.
- Conduct a comprehensive and coordinated program of research within five priority areas.
- Translate research findings into informational resources useful to school practitioners, policymakers and other interested parties.
- Serve as a state and national information resource for public education in order to provide knowledge generated by research to a broad audience.
- Facilitate the scholarly exchange of views about education reform.
The Department of Education Reform will pursue its mission and goals through a variety of programmatic strategies including:
- Generate new knowledge through research related to specific priority areas.
- Design programs based on research, which could be introduced directly into the classrooms to support the public schools in their efforts to inspire student achievement.
- Translate research into policy by providing business and community leaders, policymakers and school practitioners with timely and understandable information.
- Widen the scope of informed debate about school reform through public forums, Web-based information, press briefings, newsletters, workshops and professional development activities.
- Develop collaborative activities with university, state, regional and national entities that will extend the department's effectiveness in achieving its goals.
- Obtain additional private, state and federal funding through the creation of a seed grant program that provides initial funding for promising research and demonstration projects.
- Through its carefully selected faculty, provide a critical mass of scholars and innovators needed to conduct research, design and implement intervention programs, establish communication with education leaders and policymakers, raise additional funds to support the programs within EDRE and serve as an information resource for individuals across the nation concerned with education reform.